Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth

By Terry Mortensen and Thane H. Ury, eds.
Green Forest, Ariz. : Master Books (2008). 478 Pages.

Reviewed by Dr. Michael Vlach
20.1 (Spring 2009) : 114-116

The early chapters of Genesis continue to be a battleground in the debate over the age of the earth. The case for six-day creation, a global flood, and a young earth finds a great ally with Coming to Grips with Genesis: Biblical Authority and the Age of the Earth. The editors, Terry Mortenson and Thane H. Ury, have assembled fourteen formidable theological scholars to defend a young-earth view and critique contemporary old-earth interpretations of the book of Genesis.

This defense of a literal view of Genesis 1–11, which is also a tribute to the life and ministry of early earth advocate, John C. Whitcomb, is not intended to be a scientific presentation for a young earth. Instead, this book admittedly complements young earth science books by focusing on a correct exegetical and theological understanding of Genesis. As such, it is intended to be a stand-alone text for seminary and Bible college professors and students, pastors, missionaries, and all interested in what the Bible really says about creation.

Readers should appreciate the two forewords. The first is by Henry M. Morris, who penned his words shortly before his death. This reviewer is glad that Dr. Morris was able to see the fruit of this outstanding book before he left this earth to enter the presence of His Lord. Both editors acknowledge the great influence of both Morris and Whitcomb on their views of Genesis. The second review is by John MacArthur, who also heartily commends this book.

Coming to Grips with Genesisconsists of fourteen chapters followed by two appendices. The first appendix, by Paul J. Scharf, is a biographical tribute to John C. Whitcomb. In regard to the chapters, James R. Mook addresses what the early church fathers really believed about the six days of creation. In separate sections, Trevor C. Craigen and Terry Mortensen tackle the topic of deep time in Genesis. Richard L. Mayhue addresses why nature should not be considered the 67th book of the Bible. William D. Barrick discusses the geological implications of Noah’s flood. Travis R. Freeman examines the issue of genealogical gaps in Genesis 5 and 11. Ron Minton shows the reader what the apostolic witness states regarding creation and the flood. David W. Hall, Todd S. Beall, Steven W. Boyd, Robert V. McCabe, James Stambaugh, and Thane H. Ury also offer helpful chapters on various exegetical, theological, and historical matters related to Genesis 1–11.

The message of the fourteen chapters is clear—Genesis and the rest of Scripture teaches a sudden, six-day creation of this earth, which is only thousands, not millions of years old. This position was the view of the apostolic witness and the church for nearly 1,800 years. The church of today, to its peril, has largely rejected the teaching of the B ible on creationism, caving in to Enlightenment thinking and dubious science. The solution is to go back to what Genesis actually teaches, with a boldness resting on the assurance that God’s Word is true.

In addition to the excellent chapters, one of the most interesting sections of the book is the Epilogue. Here the editors express their appreciation for and concerns with the Intelligent Design Movement. For those who appreciate the IDM and movies like Expelled but still find something missing, this section is helpful and, in this reviewer’s opinion, quite balanced.

The reader should also appreciate that Coming to Grips with Genesis also offers a Recommended Resources section that lists books, Web articles, DVDs, and periodicals that will allow further study of issues related to creation and the flood. Also, the work has an “Affirmations and Denials” document in the appendix. The reader may want to note that this document is also on-line with instructions at the end explaining how other theologically trained people around the world can “sign” the document as a testimony to the church and a call for the church to have a truly biblical worldview in this evolutionized world. The URL for that document is

This book is unparalleled in offering a compelling, scholarly, and recent defense of young-earth creationism from a biblical perspective. The greatest strength of the book is its unapologetic commitment to what Genesis actually teaches about origins. As the editors declare, “The authors of this book are convinced that no properly interpreted scientific facts will ultimately contradict a straightforward reading of Genesis” (427).

For those interested in issues related to creation and Genesis 1–11, Coming to Grips with Genesis is a must have. Seminaries and Bible colleges would do well to get this book into the hands of their students quickly.